Most people think of the hibiscus as an exotic potted plant or hardy flowering shrub. The rose mallow, on the other hand, is only known to a few garden friends. This article will tell you how to plant and care for it properly.
Profile of rose mallow:
Scientific name: Hibiscus moscheutos
Plant family: mallow family (Malvaceae)
Other names: swamp rose-mallow, crimsoneyed rosemallow, eastern rosemallow
Sowing time: spring
Planting time: spring
Flowering period: July to October
Soil quality: sandy to loamy, lime tolerant, nutrient rich, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in the kitchen: flowers for salad or tea
Use in: single position, planters, borders, flower garden, patio, natural garden, potted garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 (-32 °C / -25 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of rose mallow
Plant order, origin and occurrence of rose mallow
The rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) is still considered an insider tip among hobby gardeners. Amazingly, the various species of the genus Hibiscus from the mallow family (Malvaceae) have been valued as garden plants for centuries. Especially the varieties of the hardy garden mallow (Hibiscus syriacus) and the frost-sensitive Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) are very popular. Hardly known, however, are the rose mallow and its cultivations, although they are inferior to the aforementioned optically in nothing and are absolutely hardy on top of that. With a flower diameter of up to 30 centimeters (12 in) they even surpass most other species and varieties by far. The also very common name “swamp rose-mallow” is somewhat misleading: Rose mallow needs a lot of water during the growing season, but does not like to stand in the wet, especially in winter. The plant is native in the east of North America, spreads however together with its cultivation forms ever further.
Characteristics of rose mallow
Rose mallow grows between 120 and 200 centimeters (48 to 80 in) high, depending on the variety, and is beautifully bushy. The older the plant becomes, the more abundant the flower turns out to be.
The leaves are dark green to green and oval-round to heart-shaped. Their edge is slightly toothed and lobed.
During its flowering period, the rose mallow can hardly be surpassed in beauty. From about mid-July to the end of October, the plant is adorned with huge bell-shaped flowers, from the middle of which a long stylus protrudes. They are white, pink or red in color, sometimes also multicolored.
After flowering, small fruit capsules containing the kidney-shaped, brown seeds are formed.
Rose mallow – cultivation and care
Rose mallow can never get enough sun. Only in a fully sunny location in the garden does it develop its full flowering splendour, strong leaves and generally remains vital and healthy.
As a heavy feeder, the rose mallow needs soil that is very rich in humus and nutrients. This applies to both outdoor cultivation and keeping it in pots.
Rose mallow is planted in spring. If you mix the excavated material with some compost, you will provide an additional supply of nutrients in the beginning and give your plant a good start. A drainage layer of sand or gravel is advisable at the bottom of the planting hole or at the bottom of the plant container. A planting distance of at least 80 centimeters (32 in) should be maintained in the bed.
If the requirements are right, the culture of the exotic-looking flower is surprisingly simple. A sufficient water supply during the growing phase is already sufficient for the robust summer bloomers. This is particularly important in June, when the plant develops its buds. They fall off quickly during drought or dry out.
If the plant is in the pot, a slow-release fertilizer should also be administered in the second half of spring.
In late autumn, cut back the hardy perennial completely. Depending on the weather, it will then reliably sprout again from May onwards in the following spring.
The rose mallow can be propagated by sowing or by cuttings.
Diseases and pests
Winter protection is not necessary, as the plant tolerates temperatures down to -32 °C / -25 °F without any problems. Potted plants can be placed on an insulating board and covered with fleece or similar for safety, so that the root ball does not cool down too much.
Use in the garden
Undemanding and robust as it is, the rose mallow can also be cultivated in temperate climate without much effort. Whether in a tub on the terrace or planted in the garden, it attracts all eyes and creates an exotic flair during flowering. As it grows relatively large, it is also suitable as a flowering, seasonal privacy screen for the balcony. It is a valuable nectar and pollen plant for butterflies, bees and bumblebees.
The first known variety of the rose mallow is Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Lord Baltimore‘ from 1950, but the assortment has grown steadily since then. ‘Robert Fleming‘, for example, is a variety with wine-red flowers and compact growth. ‘Jazzberry Jam‘ has bright pink petals and grows to a height of 150 centimeters. The dark foliage of ‘Kopper King‘ contrasts beautifully with the light flowers.
There are also some rarities of the plant in distribution – but they are not easy to find and usually only available on request. These include ‘Tie Dye‘, whose flowers have a three-colored mother-of-pearl shimmer, or the pink flowering variety ‘Party Favor‘.
Use in the kitchen
The flowers are edible and can be used fresh for salads. They can also be processed into healthy tea, which is rich in vitamin C.